DATELINE: January 20, 2000
Tired of struggling with that round mouse? Try one of these USB alternatives.
By Brett Larson
Bargain Basement: $30 and under
If you just need a quick replacement for that USB hockey puck that comes with the Mac, try one of these inexpensive, but functional models. They may be lacking in special features, but they feel like a conventional mouse.
For $5 more, Belkin offers the Classic Mouse USB for iMac, a version of the Classic Mouse USB with an iMac-inspired Bondi Blue color scheme. However, like its putty-colored sibling, it’s designed for right-hand use only.
The scroll wheel on the $25 XLR8 Point and Scroll Mouse from Interex (
) actually works thanks to the included and easy-to-use Mac driver software; you can use the wheel to scroll through long documents or Web pages. The mouse features two programmable buttons, works with right or left hands, and comes in putty, black, and ice color schemes. You can also purchase the mouse in a $65 Performance Pack that includes a USB PCI card for older Macs.
The $30 CompuCable (
) iMouse features a Bondi Blue color scheme and should fit comfortably in most adult hands–right or left. The generous four-foot cord makes it ideal for use with CPUs that reside under a desk.
Pretty Good Deals: $39-$50
These costlier mice offer extra buttons, swappable color schemes, unusual designs, and other goodies.
The futuristic $40 MouseWorks from Kensington has a unique shape, similar to a trackball. It’s slightly larger than an average mouse, but fits comfortably in the palm of an adult hand–right or left. It has four programmable buttons, plus a scroll wheel that doesn’t scroll, but can be programmed as a fifth button. The software, which you download from the Kensington Web site, is easy to use.
Featuring three buttons plus a working scroll wheel, the $50 Mouseman Wheel mouse from Logitech (
) sports a high-tech look and easy-to-use software. It fits well in an adult hand, but it’s not designed for lefties.
High-Class Rodents: $55 and up
These mice offer premium features–with a price tag to match.
Sporting more features than its lesser-priced sibling, the $79 silver-and-gray IntelliMouse Explorer from Microsoft looks like something from Captain Kirk’s desktop. Using the same Intellieye optical-tracking technology, the four-button mouse features a scroll wheel and easy-to-use software. A red light in the back glows when the mouse is plugged in. Definitely a must for any gadget lover–as long as you’re right-handed.
If you have limited desk space, consider one of these USB trackballs. They can be tricky to use if you’re accustomed to a mouse, but they’ll let you navigate the Mac desktop without taking up too much space on your real one. All of these will work in either hand.
A bit larger than the Orbit, the $45 iBall from Macally features two buttons, but no software that lets you program them. It’s a comfortable fit and sports an attractive ice-and-blue color scheme.
The $99 Mouse-Trak Evolution from ITAC Systems (
) is large–about eight inches long by five inches wide–with a Zebra-like black-and-white color scheme. It features six buttons, which you program using rather clumsy controls on the device itself. The ball felt a little rough and, because it sits on metal bearings, it made a lot of noise. Considering the price tag, this one is hard to recommend.